Greeted with glorious morning sunshine Rochester was ours to explore. We cycled through streets hiding clusters of Tudor buildings, and headed towards the shadows of Rochester Castle. It stood towering over the town looking all dark and gloomy like a powerful old King.
We spent the morning acting like children let loose in a playground. Every inch of the castle’s crumbling walls and dark pits were rediscovered with enthusiasm and wonder. The views from the top of the castle had us wearing smiles, as the views of Rochester, the Medway river and the surrounding coastline below was one of beauty.
After the fun of the castle our friends sadly departed with their bicycles catching the train back to London. My boyfriend and I were in no rush and happily lazed in the morning sunshine, with bikes by our sides. London could wait as we wanted to continue cycling around the Kent coast on National Cycle Route 1.
With the excitement of not knowing where we would end up we enthusiastically pedalled off along the harbour leaving Rochester behind. The cycle signs had us following gravel paths beside muddy tidal waters where you could smell the sea air as it wafted to the far reaches of your nose. We didn’t know it then, but this was the closest we would get to the seaside until the end of the day. The cycle trail took us away from the coast and inland towards the farmers fields of green.
The trail often had unexpected surprises. It tricked us into pedalling along side busy traffic which had us close to the edge of the road. One slight turn of the wheel and we could have easily ended up as road kill. There were a couple of times when we got slightly lost (Vandalised signs don’t help much) but it is bound to happen when you have no map. Luckily, we seemed to find the correct route with careful back tracking.
We made many twists and turns through sleepy towns and villages and along the quietest country lanes with only the noise of nature entertaining our ears. The trail took a turn along a dusty trail through an entire apple orchard and quietly pass a group of contented donkeys munching on grass. The whole while I had a slight breeze cooling my skin and a sense of complete freedom – I felt like I was on top of the world!
The sun shone brightly lifting the colours around us – the rape flower fields seemed endless and had me captivated while the red bricks of the traditional Oast houses gleamed like hot kilns. My favourite though had to be when we cycled pedalled past paddocks full of the baby lambs bleating and jumping about in their woolly jumpers. They were so innocent you simply wanted to jump off your bike and cuddle them.
The trail continued onwards and took us through the quiet back streets of Sittingbourne where we found a bite to eat and restored our energy levels. We then encountered the marshy land of Conyer where small sailing boats were moored, huddled in the water against the backdrop of rustic wooden buildings creating the perfect postcard scene.
Pedalling alongside the whispers of maize fields and weaving in and around the rustle of the wavy grass had us squealing in delight at the freedom of not knowing what we would find around each bend. The charming streets of Faversham slowed us down and guided us to a road that took us back out to the coast along a protected marshland and through the tiny village of Seasalter and into the bustle of Whitstable.
We had been to Whitstable before on our bicycles and the waterfront was familiar to us. The blue skies were turning a reddish hue and our stomachs were telling us to stop. So we did. We managed to find last-minute accommodation in a pub overlooking the sea.
As we sat with a hot plate of food before us, listening to the waves crashing onto the shore below, out the pub window we could see the cycle path continuing to head further east around the coastline. We both looked at each other with excitement and I knew London was just going to have to wait!
More photos of this cycle ride can be found on my Facebook page.